In this wide-ranging and ambitious volume, Robert Royal, a prominent participant for decades in debates about religion and contemporary life, offers a comprehensive and balanced appraisal of the Catholic intellectual tradition in the twentieth century. The Catholic Church values both Faith and Reason, and Catholicism has given risen to extraordinary ideas and schools of remarkable thinking, not just in the distant past but throughout the troubled decades of the twentieth century.
Royal presents in one volume a sweeping but readable account of how Catholic thinking developed in philosophy, theology, Scripture studies, culture, literature, and much more in the twentieth century. This involves great figures recognized as such both inside and outside the Church, such as Jacques Maritain, Bernard Lonergan, Joseph Pieper, Edith Stein, Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, Romano Guardini, Karl Rahner, Henri du Lubac, Karol Wojtyla, Joseph Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Charles Peguy, Paul Claudel, George Bernanos, Francois Mauriac, G. K. Chesterton, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Christopher Dawson, Graham Greene, Sigrid Undset, J. R. R. Tolkien, Czeslaw Milosz, and many more.
Royal argues that without serious thought, Catholicism – however welcoming and nourishing – would become something like a doctor with a good bedside manner, but who knows little medicine. It has always been the aspiration of the Catholic tradition to unite emotion and intellect, action and contemplation. But unless we know what the tradition has already produced – especially in the work of the great figures of the recent past – we will not be able to answer the questions that the modern world raises, or even properly recognize the questions.
This is a reflective, non-polemical work that brings together various strands of Catholic thought in the twentieth century, a comprehensive guide to the recent past and the future.